Expectations vs Reality
“A wonderful gift may not be wrapped as you expect.” ― Jonathan Lockwood Huie
WHAT DREAMS ARE MADE OF
There is something exciting about the element of surprise. With travel comes new places and faces and maybe even new home bases (in my case). When you board that plane, endless possibilities lie across the vast ocean before you. You may have dreamed about this opportunity for years or maybe even your whole life, so you probably tried to imagine exactly how it would go. You go to Rome on a class trip, get mistaken for a international superstar, meet an Italian pop singer, drive off into the sunset on his scooter, and live happily ever after. Right? …..not exactly.
THE TIDE IS HIGH BUT I’M HOLDIN’ ON
In the 3 weeks since I have been abroad, most of my expectations have been thrown to the wind and I have been utterly surprised by many realities. The first thing that comes to my mind: convenience. I’ve come to realize that not everything is as easy in Europe as it is for us in the US. Grocery stores aren’t open 24/7, water isn’t free, and nothing comes in bulk. While some things are vastly different than what I’m used to (European outlets, the metric system, military time), it makes me appreciate what I am so lucky to have in America. There are also so many advantages to living in a different place, like the fact that there is a daily market for fresh (and CHEAP) produce steps from my apartment, everyone is not constantly rushing everywhere, and Italians are super eco-friendly (we separate our trash into 4 different types). Why buy things in bulk when you can buy the ingredients for dinner fresh each day? And how would it ever be acceptable to nap from 1-4 everyday in the US? Although I was not expecting to google translate my way through a grocery store or pay 2 euros to use the bathroom, I have learned to accept (and embrace…kinda) the different realities as I adjust to Italian living.
My biggest surprise, however, would have to be how much traveling abroad has helped me grow as a person, even in just 3 short weeks. Living here has naturally helped improve my Italian, which after 5 semesters was pathetically still at an elementary level when I arrived. I feel confident with more than just the standard “buongiorno” and “quanto costa” and am actually able to ask for directions or help and more or less understand the answer. Although I have been living on my own for almost three years, living in a foreign country has forced me to grow up even more than I thought I needed to. Adapting to a culture is not an easy task in itself, but balancing new friendships, school work, budgeting, and travel at the same time has been the ultimate challenge. I have been surprised at how easily I find myself adjusting my normal habits and views to fit my new life. It is so rewarding to see the growth in my gradual acclimation to a new culture.
5 THINGS YOU APPRECIATE ABOUT AMERICA AFTER LIVING ABROAD
1. Dryers. In the amount of time it takes to hang each piece of clothing here, they probably would have been dry at home.
2. Smoothly paved streets and sidewalks. Needless to say I’ve perfected the art of tripping and laughing it off.
3. Peanut Butter. Sometimes Nutella just doesn’t cut it.
4. Knowing how much you’re actually spending. Convincing myself to “only think in euros” does not bode well for my bank account.
5. Netflix and Pandora. Note to self: DVR all shows before leaving the country.
5 THINGS I WASN’T EXPECTING TO LOVE SO MUCH ABOUT ITALIAN LIFE